• All Work and All Play?

    July 4th 2015. Senior Staff, Nora Dooley, blogs from South Africa about the first of two weeks with the Mokopane Red Cross Society and their Football for Hope Center.

    Back to South Africa. Back to pap, braai, incredible dance moves, teasing football skills, Chiefs vs. Pirates disagreements, learning words I’ll never be able to pronounce but trying anyway, and rooibos tea. I love it here.

    After living in Kimberley for a year in 2012/2013, I am returning to South Africa for a third year in a row to run programs for CAC. I have toured and worked all over this massive country, but as it is so, this is my first time to Mokopane. We are working at the FIFA Football for Hope Center operated by the South African Red Cross Society. After a successful first year, we are back for a second and taking the next big step in sport for social impact. For two weeks these participants from various communities in the Mogalakwena municipality will learn many new games with the ultimate goal of adaptation: taking one game, changing it, making it their own, and adding layers and different social messages.

    For this first week of training we kept that goal in mind but began our slow but steady trek to the top. Each morning we played new games from Messi dribbling to Hope Solo goalkeeping with some intense afternoon classroom discussions to complement the on-field activity. These discussions were all designed bearing long-term impact in mind; what do we want the participants to discuss that will provoke sustainable positive social change?

    Instead of diving straight into the negatives in their various communities, we approached the ascent from a different path. We asked the participants to form smaller groups and discuss various questions collectively. They began simply with “What do you love about Mokopane?”, “What do you want the world to know about South Africa?”, and more generally, “What do you want to learn?”. Over the course of the first week the questions evolved into, “What makes you angry?”, “What do you wish was different?”, and “What does your perfect world look like?”. These discussions built the foundation that allowed us to openly discuss solutions. Our key solutions come through football, but within that pivotal game there are infinite choices. So from here we capped off the first week breaking down what the participants chose as some of the biggest issues they face in their communities and attempting to better understand these issues in order to create new games to teach about them. It was brilliant. The participants surprised themselves with their curiosity, they challenged each other with different ideas, and they blew us away with their commitment to a different, hopefully better, future for their beautiful but troubled country.

    A similar realization came during one of the on-field games. After learning some goalkeeping skills the participants were playing a game of handball and bringing those techniques into a game-like situation. They were then asked to find a partner on their team and hold hands with one another. The game of handball resumed but the pairs had to maintain the hold while trying to catch and throw a football. When they understood the challenge, they stared at me in disbelief. They genuinely did not believe such a task was possible, but after only hearing a repetition of the rules from their coach, onward they marched. Once again, they surprised themselves, they shared ideas, and they blew me away. It is seriously amazing what people can accomplish when given the opportunity to struggle, collaborate, and solve their problems without authoritative interference.

    And solve they did, day after day, all while playing a game we share as a passion, dancing because we can, and laughing as much as we please. South Africa, Mokopane, thank you for welcoming me back in the best way possible. Yes, there are issues; yes, we have work to do; and yes, we will most definitely have fun (and eat way too much pap) while doing it. Let’s see how much we can accomplish with a second week here at the Football for Hope Center – stay tuned!

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  • US Women’s Team On The Brink…

    July 1st 2015. Last night the US Women’s Soccer team reached the World Cup final after defeating Germany 2-0. The team, which triumphed thanks to second half goals from Carli Lloyd and Kelley O’Hara, is now on the cusp of making history. They will play the final on Sunday July 5th against either England or Japan, who play tonight in the second semi-final. For some Coaches Across Continents staff and supporters there may be some split loyalties if the lionesses of England go up against the US! However, if the US win the final they will become the first team in Women’s World Cup history to win the tournament three times following their victories in 1991 and 1999. Can this team which includes stars such as Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe emulate their predecessors heroics in 4 days time?

    If you are supporting the US Women’s National Team on Sunday you could be in with a shot of completing a very impressive soccer double by entering our competition. There are only four days left to enter and be in with a chance of winning a signed 1999 US Women’s soccer team shirt! This unique shirt, signed by legends such as Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and Julie Foudy, is an incredible piece of history. The competition draw will take place on Sunday just before the final kicks off at 7pm EST with the winner announced on Monday July 6th. Go to this page and enter the competition today to have a shot while also supporting CAC’s work on global female empowerment.

    You can win a piece of 1999 history on the same day the 2015 US Women’s soccer team try to create new history!

    ENTER THE COMPETITION HERE!

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  • A Marriage in Social Impact

    December 17, 2014. Week 2 with Slum Soccer Nagpur brought to us by volunteer, Billy Hawkey.

    The setting was the same for our second week in Nagpur with Slum Soccer. Our participants for the week had already been through at least one CAC training. Some had participated in the training a year ago, others were a part of the training just one week prior. We had Community Impact Coaches and Slum Soccer senior staff members. The group knew what football for social impact meant, and they were familiar with the CAC methodology and values.

    This week Sophie and I had a goal to introduce new role models and as many new games as possible. To achieve this we had two separate on-field sessions every day, in addition to our classroom sessions. We were asking a lot of the group, we were going to challenge them, but they were ready.

    On day one we covered our Suarez and Hope Solo games. Day two was financial literacy and Perpetua games and the third day we played new child right’s games.  The games were new to the experienced coaches, which kept them engaged and having a blast. They were able to identify the social messages with ease, and so we challenged them frequently by asking how they would adapt the games to fit different social issues.

    Throughout the week the group had been planning games that they were going to invent and coach on the fourth and final day. The creativity and ideas they had were great. The topics included the dowry system, organic farming, rape, conflict resolution, the rights of children with disabilities, and child labor. They coached the games exceptionally; they were confident, well organized, and clear. They facilitated fluid discussions of the social impact related to their games. It was very fun to sit back and watch them at work. Slum Soccer is continuing to invent new games including math education games dealing with profit and loss (Did you even think it was possible to teach that through football?).

    An impactful game from the week was Suarez for Gender Equity. In this game two teams play a scrimmage with three goals to defend, and three goals to attack. Each goal represents a different way to empower women. The goals represented education, sports, and support. To begin, all players must walk. When an individual scores a goal, they must yell the empowering message and then they have the freedom to run. It took a few minutes for the first team to break even, but then we quickly had two running players, then three, four, and before you knew it everyone on the field was running. The quick increase in running players was due to the running players helping their teammates by giving good support, or dribbling fast around walking defenders and laying it off for a teammate to finish right in front of goal. This game represented the impact that empowering women has on a community. It has been shown that when empowered, women will give back and help their community more than men, just as in the game the empowered individuals helped their team reach its full potential.

    Slum Soccer was an extremely fun group to work with and the relationship between CAC and Slum Soccer is special. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them. We joked on several occasions that Slum Soccer and CAC are like a married couple; sharing the same thoughts and often pronouncing a great idea just seconds before the other intended to say the same thing. Slum soccer is adding programs of Edu-Kick, Shakti Girls Program, Slum Soccer on the Road, and Youth Leaders Training. They currently have centers in Nagpur and Chennai and are expanding to Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. 2015 is going to be an exciting year for the CAC and Slum Soccer partnership.

    In the evenings I played in friendly matches with the coaches, some of the participants, and the u14 Slum Soccer team. However one game in particular stood out. The Chai Game.

    I was feeling a little tired after a long day on the field, and was leaning towards calling it a day and hitting the bucket shower early. That’s when I was told “It’s chai game!” I needed no further persuading. I was up off the bench and on the field within seconds.

    Winning team gets chai; losing team serves. Throughout the game there was a sense of urgency in everyone’s voice. I couldn’t understand the exact content of what was being said, but the word “chai” was always in there. I would sporadically just scream out “chai!” to fit in. The game is up there for one of the most intense games I’ve been apart of, right next to games vs. Amherst. I am proud to say that I was victorious in my first career Chai match; however no chai was drank that night… we were all out of milk.

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